This is the DRAFT record of the meeting.
HOYLAKE GOLF RESORT
PUBLIC MEETING – 6 July, 2016, Victory Hall, Upton
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Chairman - Paul Nelson
There were about 20 people present at the meeting.
Apologies for absence have been received from
Margaret Greenwood MP, Cllrs Bruce Berry, Wendy Clements, Gerry Ellis,
Jeff Green, Matthew Patrick, Geoffrey Watt and Steve Williams.
Councillors and Officials received personal invitations.
Cllr Chris Blakeley had to leave at 9 pm - we thank him for attending.
John H Hutchinson, Chairman of HGR Committee - “Implications for roads and traffic of construction and visitor vehicles.”
Dr Jane Turner, Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society - “Ornithological importance of the site”
Alix Cockroft, Green party - “Green issues”
Opening remarks : Paul Nelson welcomed everyone explaining that the purpose of the meeting was to make people aware of what is planned for the Hoylake Golf Resort, since in talking to people it had become most apparent that many people are either unaware of the proposal or unaware of the potential impacts.
1. Implications for roads and traffic of construction and visitor vehicles
Question : Is it too early to be worried about the plans for the roads and the golf resort?
Reply : When planning applications are announced there is a timetable that can be as short as 6 to 8 weeks in which the public has the chance to review the plans and comment. The planning application might be published during national holidays, which would greatly restrict the ability of the population to comment about the plan. The Committee therefore thinks it essential that whilst the application may be 15 months away, work continues so that when the application is published there is a clear body of evidence and concerns to be presented.
(Post meeting note : notification of Green Belt developments normally have a response time of 21 days.)
Comment : The land is at sea level and prone to flooding.
Response : Landfill will be used to sculpt the land producing “park style” golf courses and to raise the land above the floodplain, making it playable in all weathers.
Question : Are the number of vehicles deliberately overstated in order to frighten the population? (can be read here)
Reply : These are estimates of which the Committee feels the population should be aware. Other estimates are invited. Developer must produce a Traffic Impact Assessment.
Question : What would happen downstream of the River Birket, given the flooding in Moreton in September 2015?
Reply : The hydrology needs to be understood to ensure the site does not dry out, but does not flood in heavy rain. The matter of balancing the inflow and the outflow to prevent flooding of Meols and Moreton whilst preserving Meols Meadows SSSI with provision of irrigation for the golf courses will be addressed by Developer in its Flood Risk Assessment.
Question : What is the quality of the farmland that will be lost?
Reply : For 15 years the golf resort proposal has inflicted “planning blight” on this farmland and the land has not been maintained to the highest level. The Environment Agency Grade the land as 3a /3b and will not comment further until Developer presents its Application. Council will not qualify its assertion that it is “poor quality”.
Question : What is the sale value of the land?
Reply : As Grade 3 farmland, it is worth maximum £5,000 per acre. Developer has offered £20,000 per acre. Were it to be for housing, it could be valued £1 million per acre.
Question : Could the topsoil be reused for the golf courses rather than removal?
Reply : Golf courses need special topsoil to support alien grass types for tees, fairways and greens.
Comment : Run-off from chemicals needed to keep courses in top condition can be very toxic.
General discussion on the Heron Road : Cllr Blakeley said that Heron Road has been an issue since the 1980s and may be regarded as independent of the Hoylake Golf Resort.
Comment : John Hutchinson said that Council is spending £80,000 on the Heron Road viability analysis. Greasby end of Heron Road could be used for the road into Hoylake Golf Resort. Regardless of the route, there would be a great deal of HGV traffic in the area during construction and about 1,500 extra vehicles per day if the Resort is built.
Comment : HGV access could run through Greasby, Frankby and China Farm Lane crossing Saughall Massie Road into the resort site.
Comment : A S106 Agreement (part of Planning Application) could be made allowing Developer to fund and build the road.
Comment : Developer can apply many times but needs to succeed only once. Only the Applicant can Appeal if the application is Refused.
Dr Jane Turner
2. Ornithological Importance of the Site
NOTE : 10% of the world’s population of Black-tailed Godwit live on and adjacent to the Resort site AND the issue of “functional linkage” of the site to the Dee Estuary with its use by estuary wading birds must be addressed.
Question : How long would bird populations need to recover if the Hoylake Golf Resort went ahead?
Reply : The time to recover is less important than loss of winter roosting sites that could lead to the population being wiped out. Winter roosting sites have been shown to be the most important aspect of bird population cycle.
Question : How much of the hedgerows would be destroyed?
Reply : The top surface would be removed including hedgerows in order to create the parkland golf resort.
Comment : The Langfields, including the “scrapes”, recommendation by MEAS as a Site of Biological Interest (SBI) was kept secret by Council revealed by freedom of information request. (can be seen here)
Comment : Developer will provide mitigation by making available other plots of land for animals. How these will know of their relocation is a serious matter for consideration.
Comment : Because the proposed changes to the area and effects on wildlife are drastic, the Committee feels that it is essential that all implications for wildlife, traffic and population are well advertised and understood and will argue strongly to preserve this Green Belt farmland.
3. Green issues
Comment : Hoylake Golf Resort contradicts Councils “Cool Wirral” policy aimed at reducing Wirral’s carbon footprint.
Comment : There will be some 175 new jobs of which, perhaps, 10 would be in management, others will be service sector with issues of minimum pay, minimum hours and permanence. Council's policy of increasing the Borough's job skill set will not be satisfied. Wirral Council states that it wants to boost manufacturing rather than services, yet this is a wholly service industry proposal.
Comment : Wirral Borough is part of the Liverpool City Region comprising the old Merseyside districts and Halton. It is probable that the City Region’s Metro-Mayor would wish to have a “significant input” into how the income-from-sale windfall was spent.
Chairman, Paul Nelson, closed the meeting thanking speakers and audience for their questions and their generosity in helping the Committee's funding need and for completing the “What next for the Committee” questionnaire. The record of the meeting will be published on the website http://www.hoylakegolfresort.uk/ under the tab “Public Meetings” and that questions on tonight's and any other issues can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org where they will receive a reply.